September 4 in history:
On September 4th, 1957, Ford Motor Company president Henry Ford the 2nd celebrated his 40th birthday by unveiling a new car brand named after his late father, Edsel Ford. Edsels in showrooms around America were kept under wraps until the 4th, “E-Day.” More than 60,000 Edsels were built the first year, but two years later, production was down to about three thousand, and the brand was discontinued.
An Edsel may have been given away as a prize on “The Price Is Right” during its original run on TV in the 1950s and ’60s. On September 4th, 1972, the game show was revived on CBS as “The New Price Is Right,” hosted by Bob Barker. A contestant won a Chevrolet Vega wagon worth $2,746 in the first “pricing game” of the new show.
A new way of taking photographs was introduced by inventor George Eastman: a personal camera that used rolls of film instead of photographic plates. On this date in 1888, Eastman registered the trademark name “Kodak” for the camera company he would start four years later.
Another leap in technology occurred on September 4th, 1998, when Stanford graduate students Sergey Brin and Larry Page incorporated a company named Google, which would become famous for its internet search engine.
September 3 in history:
England’s King Richard the 1st, the Lionheart, was crowned on September 3rd, 1189. Ironically, Richard primarily spoke French, and spent little time in England during his 10 years on the throne.
The United States formally separated from England with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on this date in 1783, officially ending the American Revolution. John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were among the signers for the U.S.
“Signing in” on a blackboard was the way contestants made their entrance on the long-running game show “What’s My Line?” The original Sunday night version of “Line” ended its 17-year run on CBS on September 3rd, 1967. A daily syndicated version was launched a year later.
Other countries have broadcast their own versions of “What’s My Line?”…including Sweden, where the show was called “Gissa mitt jobb,” roughly translated to “Guess My Job.” On the same day in 1967 that “Line” had its final episode on CBS, Sweden complicated the jobs of traffic cops, and drivers, by requiring automobile drivers to use the right lane of the road instead of the left lane, following the example of neighboring countries. The switch was preceded by a major public-education campaign.
Actress and singer Kitty Carlisle Hart occasionally appeared as a panelist on “What’s My Line?”, but was more famous as a regular panel member on “To Tell the Truth.” She was born on this date in 1910.
June 20th in history:
On June 20th, 1840, Massachusetts native Samuel F.B. Morse received a patent for his telegraph.
Another form of fast communication was the Hot Line between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, installed June 20th, 1963, during the presidency of John F. Kennedy (from Massachusetts).
In New Bedford, Massachusetts, on June 20th, 1893, Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the ax murders of her mother and father.
And June 20th is the birthday of Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis (1931), a Massachusetts native and cousin of former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. Olympia Dukakis won her Oscar for the 1987 movie comedy “Moonstruck,” and shares a June 20th birthday with two other stars of that film: Danny Aiello (born 1933) and John Mahoney (1940).
“Moonstruck” also features the Dean Martin song “That’s Amore,” introduced in the Martin and Lewis movie “The Caddy.” Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were among the guests on the premiere of the CBS variety show “Toast of the Town” on June 20th, 1948. The series eventually was renamed “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and ran for 23 years.
April 12th in history:
A man moved around the Earth in a space capsule for the first time on April 12th, 1961, when cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was launched into orbit.
Two accidents involving Soviet submarines have happened on April 12th. In 1970, the submarine K-8 sank while being towed in the North Atlantic after a fire. Fifty-two men died when the sub went down with nuclear torpedoes aboard. On April 12th of 1963, the nuclear sub K-33 collided with a Finnish merchant ship. The accident was kept a secret for 44 years.
“The Hunt for Red October,” partly set aboard a Soviet sub, was the first successful novel by author Tom Clancy, born on this date in 1947.
Clancy once appeared as a guest on NBC’s “Late Night” show, but not during David Letterman’s time as the show’s host. Letterman was born the same day and year as Clancy. He was the original host of “Late Night,” from 1982 until 1993, when he moved to CBS and renamed his program “The Late Show.” Letterman retired from the show in 2015, and was succeeded by Stephen Colbert.
Yet another man born on April 12th, 1947, is actor Dan Lauria, who played Jack Arnold, Kevin’s dad, on “The Wonder Years.” Letterman left NBC the same year that “The Wonder Years” ended its run on ABC.
March 22nd in history:
It can be used to perform surgery, or play a DVD. It was even used as a deadly weapon against James Bond. The laser beam developed by Arthur Schawlow and Charles Townes was given a U.S. patent on March 22nd, 1960.
James Bond doesn’t usually work with a partner, but TV secret agent James West had a regular partner on “The Wild Wild West”: master of disguise Artemus Gordon, played by Ross Martin, born March 22nd, 1920. Early in his career, Martin was part of a comedy team with a partner named West — Bernie West, who wrote for “All in the Family” and was co-creator of “Three’s Company.”
Born the same day and year as Ross Martin was Werner Klemperer, who played Col. Klink, the commandant of Stalag 13 on “Hogan’s Heroes.” “Wild Wild West” and “Hogan’s Heroes” aired back-to-back Friday nights on CBS for two years in the 1960s.
One “Wild Wild West” episode featured an audience watching a motion picture in which Artemus comically impersonated President Ulysses Grant. The story was set years before the Lumiere brothers actually projected a movie on a screen in Paris, on this day in 1895. That event is considered the first-ever private screening of motion pictures for an audience.
Several people who have won Oscars for their movie work were born on March 22nd: actors Karl Malden (born 1912), Haing S. Ngor (1940), and Reese Witherspoon (1976), “Forrest Gump” screenwriter Eric Roth (1945), and composers Stephen Sondheim (1930) and Andrew Lloyd Webber (1948).
February 22nd in history:
Another legendary sports event happened on this date in 1980: the “Miracle on Ice,” in which the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team surprised the world by beating the Soviets, 4-3, in the semi-final round of the Winter Games. The Americans went on to win the gold against Finland in the games at Lake Placid, New York.
Actor Kirk Douglas once served as royalty at a winter carnival in Lake Placid. During the week of the Miracle on Ice game, Douglas was hosting “Saturday Night Live” in New York, featuring NBC announcer Don Pardo, born on this day in 1918. Until his death in 2014, Pardo had been the SNL announcer for most of the show’s run. Pardo also worked on the original versions of “Jeopardy” and “The Price is Right,” and broke the news of President Kennedy’s assassination on WNBC-TV in New York in 1963.
David Letterman was getting ready to move his talk show from NBC to CBS when it was announced on February 22nd, 1993 that CBS had bought the Ed Sullivan Theater, to keep Letterman’s show in New York.
On this day in 1964, the Beatles returned to England after their famous first visit to the U.S., which included three straight appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The band had pre-recorded its performance which would be seen on “Sullivan” the next night.
February 5th in history:
Three veterans of “Saturday Night Live” share a February 5th birthday: Christopher Guest (born 1948), best known for directing and/or acting in mock documentaries including “This is Spinal Tap” and “Waiting for Guffman”; Tim Meadows (1961), whose most famous SNL character was “The Ladies’ Man”; and Chris Parnell (1967), alias Dr. Spaceman on “30 Rock.”
Parnell was born on the same day in ’67 that “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” debuted on CBS. The often-controversial variety show hosted by Tom and Dick Smothers was a launching pad for talent such as frequent SNL host Steve Martin and “Spinal Tap” director Rob Reiner.
Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and director D.W. Griffith combined their talents to launch a film studio on this date in 1919…United Artists. United Artists had big hits with the Beatles’ first two movies, “Gilligan’s Island” and the James Bond franchise.
In the opening scene of the 007 movie “Goldfinger,” Bond battles a drug lord from Mexico. February 5th is the anniversary of the Mexican constitution, adopted in 1917.
A different milestone for Central America was the development of the Panama Canal. On February 5th, 1900, the United States and Great Britain signed a treaty to create the canal, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.